Ah yes, the Fourth of July, a date, the Bard might have said, to be conjured with. It is a time of hamburger hangovers, fireworks flash ups and backyard bashes. Not to mention celebrating the birth of a country, a minor detail.
When I was a lad living on the coast of Maine, the date was reckoned to be the time when the impossibly elderly of my parents’ generation decided it was safe to enter the chilly waters of the Atlantic; and no, it is not true that there were still ice cubes floating on the water. The last of those were almost always gone by mid-June.
Down in Boston, they celebrate with a gigantic fireworks display while The Pops plays “The 1812 Overture,” meaning that either Bostonites cannot do simple arithmetic, or they don’t care about it being a celebration of the wrong war being won by the wrong country in the wrong century as long as there are large bangs and booms involved.
For those of us in the bleachers, it is also a highly important date, for it marks the traditional halfway point of the baseball season. Now that is a time for conjurations.
It is a time when all bleacher wizards, seers and savants don their magical cloaks (linen, seersucker or madras, please, because it is, after all, summer) and toss the bones, consult the charts, or read the tea leaves to try and determine the fate of their favorite team for the rest of the season.
Will the Sox pull one of their famous August fades? Will the Yankees start playing like the premier team from New York and not like a bunch of knuckleheads from somewhere out in the unwashed middle of the country? Will the Mets ever figure out how to hit a baseball and give the poor pitching staff something called “run support?”
These and many more burning questions will fill the scented air as the always hopeful try to find some basis for their eternal optimism.
Saying the appropriate sooth and burning incense gained from last year’s burnt bat ashes, the mid-season magicians strive to add that hope to hot weather and get a divisional winner or at least a wild card team to step out of the charmed circle and onto the field. Will our conjurations work? Stay tuned; September is just around the corner, and then all questions will be answered — darn it.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a retired teacher and coach — and athlete.